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A SPECIALIST team that deals with tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) has welcomed a new member of staff on board.
This month, 22-year-old Jade Gardner who is from Blackpool has joined the ‘Operation Cherish' team based in Ormskirk.
The Operation Cherish team deals with children and young people under the age of 18 who are considered victims of child sex exploitation across West Lancashire, Chorley and South Ribble.
Detective Sergeant Toni Andrews said, "These children may be in care of the local authority or living with their parents and our team works with them and their families, together with partner agencies, to safeguard them, protect them from harm and where there are criminal offences, work to prosecute offenders where possible.”
The team consists of four police officers, a Detective Sergeant and three Detective Constables alongside staff from partner agencies, including Jade.
Jade, who is a qualified social worker, has now joined the team and will work with young people to help them understand the risks they face, help them to learn ways to keep themselves safe as well as addressing other issues that affect their lives and that contribute to the problems they are facing.
Jade will be working with groups in schools and training professionals and parents in order to help them recognise signs and risks and how to best respond and protect children from sexual predators.
Jade's post is funded by the Children's Society and as part of the voluntary sector, Jade will offer independent support based on a professional relationship that builds trust and enables communication with other agencies.
This support is long-term and offers a consistency often lacking in these children's lives. With a focus on the needs of the child, confidence is built gradually and they then learn to trust the services that are here to help them and most importantly, they learn that if they get into trouble they can ask for help and will be believed.
Stela Stansfield, Service Co-ordinator for the Children's Society said, "We have worked in this part of the County for ten years now however, funding is not always available to have a dedicated worker than can respond to all the children that need our support. We are so excited to have Jade working here full-time as we know the difference her help can make in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children.”